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Learning from tragedy

mumbai Updated: May 20, 2010 00:50 IST
Rajendra Aklekar
Rajendra Aklekar
Hindustan Times
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The stampede at New Delhi railway station, which killed two people and injured several commuters, could improve conditions for suburban and outstation train commuters in Mumbai.

Railway officials in Mumbai have drawn up plans to ensure that no train, suburban or long-distance, changes platforms at the last moment, which typically forces passengers to rush from one platform to another in the final seconds before the train leaves the station.

“We had a review meeting on Monday and have assigned responsibilities on senior officials. We will ensure there are no last-minute changes in platforms. If it has to happen due to some problem, we will make sure there are proper announcements. A senior official will monitor the situation,” an official connected to the meeting said.

“The decision will be applicable to both, outstation as well as suburban trains,” he added. Central Railway spokesperson S.C. Mudgerikar confirmed the development.

This will mean relief for lakhs of Mumbai commuters who travel daily to their workplaces. At major stations, it is quite common for platforms where trains, especially fast trains, are expected, to be changed a few minutes before the train arrives. The resulting rush is particularly harrying for women commuters.

A year ago, an almost riot-like situation erupted at Borivli station when angry commuters went amok to protest a sudden change of platform.

They were angry that they had to walk a long distance as a particular newly built platform was some way from the other platforms.

A railway official said the railways have also drawn up plans for crowd management and directed the Railway Protection Force (RPF) to bring order to queues of passengers wanting to board unreserved compartments. The RPF will be responsible for forming and monitoring queues at major stations such as CST, Dadar, Kurla and Kalyan.

The administration has put up centralised close-circuit television cameras and arranged for videography for better crowd control, especially given the increased rush of outstation passengers due to the summer holidays.

The Delhi incident happened after platforms were switched at the last minute leading to a stampede on the foot over-bridge.